Tag Archives: Jack Kerouac

Almanac – May 20

1799 – Honoré de Balzac born. French novelist and playwright.

His magnum opus was a sequence of short stories and novels collectively entitled La Comédie humaine, which presents a panorama of French life in the years after the 1815 fall of Napoleon Bonaparte.

Due to his keen observation of detail and unfiltered representation of society, Balzac is regarded as one of the founders of realism in European literature, and is renowned for his multifaceted, morally ambiguous characters.

His writing influenced many subsequent novelists such as Marcel Proust, Émile Zola, Charles Dickens, Edgar Allan Poe, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Gustave Flaubert, Benito Pérez Galdós, Marie Corelli, Henry James, William Faulkner, Jack Kerouac, and Italo Calvino, and philosophers such as Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx.

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Almanac – March 12

1507 – Cesare Borgia died. Italian nobleman, politician, and cardinal. He was the son of Pope Alexander VI and his long-term mistress Vannozza dei Cattanei, and  the brother of Lucrezia Borgia. He was killed  while fighting in the city of Viana, Spain.

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1626 – John Aubrey born.  English antiquary, natural philosopher and writer.  He was a pioneer archaeologist, who recorded (often for the first time) numerous megalithic and other field monuments in southern England, and who is particularly noted as the discoverer of the Avebury henge monument.  The Aubrey holes at Stonehenge are named after him, although there is considerable doubt as to whether the holes that he observed are those that currently bear the name.

 He was also a pioneer folklorist, collecting together a miscellany of material on customs, traditions and beliefs under the title “Remaines of Gentilisme and Judaisme”.

He set out to compile county histories of both Wiltshire and Surrey, although both projects remained unfinished. His “Interpretation of Villare Anglicanum” (also unfinished) was the first attempt to compile a full-length study of English place-names.

He had wider interests in applied mathematics and astronomy, and was friendly with many of the greatest scientists of the day.

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1922 – Jack Kerouac born. American novelist and poet. He is considered a literary iconoclast and, alongside William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg, a pioneer of the Beat Generation.

Kerouac is recognized for his spontaneous method of writing, covering topics such as Catholic spirituality, jazz, promiscuity, Buddhism, drugs, poverty, and travel. He became an underground celebrity and, with other beats, a progenitor of the hippie movement, although he remained antagonistic toward some of its politically radical elements.

All of his books are in print today, among them: On the Road, Doctor Sax, The Dharma Bums, Mexico City Blues, The Subterraneans, Desolation Angels, Visions of Cody, The Sea is My Brother, and Big Sur.

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1955 – Charlie Parker died. American jazz saxophonist and composer. Miles Davis once said, “You can tell the history of jazz in four words: Louis Armstrong. Charlie Parker.”

Parker was a highly influential jazz soloist and a leading figure in the development of bebop, a form of jazz characterized by fast tempos, virtuosic technique, and improvisation. Parker introduced revolutionary harmonic ideas, including rapid passing chords, new variants of altered chords, and chord substitutions.

He acquired the nickname “Yardbird” early in his career and the shortened form, “Bird”, which continued to be used for the rest of his life, inspired the titles of a number of Parker compositions, such as “Yardbird Suite” and “Ornithology.

Parker died in the suite of his friend and patron Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswarter at the Stanhope Hotel in New York City while watching The Dorsey Brothers’ Stage Show on television.

The official causes of death were lobar pneumonia and a bleeding ulcer but Parker also had an advanced case of cirrhosis and had suffered a heart attack. The coroner who performed his autopsy mistakenly estimated Parker’s 34-year-old body to be between 50 and 60 years of age.

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Almanac – February 08

1855 – The Devil’s Footprints mysteriously appeared around the Exe Estuary in East Devon and South Devon, England.

After a heavy snowfall, trails of hoof-like marks appeared overnight in the snow covering a total distance of some 40 to 100 miles. The footprints were so called because some people believed that they were the tracks of Satan, as they were allegedly made by a cloven hoof.

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1921 – Peter Kropotkin died.  Russian zoologist, evolutionary theorist, philosopher, scientist, revolutionary, philologist, economist, activist, geographer, writer, and prominent anarcho-communist.

Kropotkin advocated a communist society free from central government and based on voluntary associations between workers. He wrote many books, pamphlets and articles, the most prominent being The Conquest of Bread and Fields, Factories and Workshops, and his principal scientific offering, Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution. He also contributed the article on anarchism to the Encyclopædia Britannica (Eleventh Edition).

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1926 – Neal Cassady born. A major figure of the Beat Generation of the 1950s and the psychedelic movement of the 1960s. He served as the model for the character Dean Moriarty in Jack Kerouac‘s novel On the Road.

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Almanac – February 04

1913 – Rosa Parks born.  American civil rights activist. On December 1, 1955, in Montgomery, Alabama, Parks refused to obey bus driver James F. Blake‘s order that she give up her seat in the colored section to a white passenger, after the white section was filled.

Parks was not the first person to resist bus segregation, others had taken similar steps in the twentieth century, but NAACP organizers believed that Parks was the best candidate for seeing through a court challenge after her arrest for civil disobedience.

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1968 – Neal Cassady died.  Major figure of the Beat Generation of the 1950s and the psychedelic movement of the 1960s.

He served as the model for the character Dean Moriarty in Jack Kerouac‘s novel On the Road, in which the narrator, Sal Paradise (the personification of Jack Kerouac) states to the reader, “He  (Moriarty/Cassady) was simply a youth tremendously excited with life, and though he was a con-man, he was only conning because he wanted so much to live and to get involved with people who would otherwise pay no attention to him…Somewhere along the line I knew there’d be girls, visions, everything; somewhere along the line the pearl would be handed to me.”

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1975 – Louis Jordan died. Pioneering American musician, songwriter and bandleader who enjoyed his greatest popularity from the late 1930s to the early 1950s. Known as “The King of the Jukebox”, he was highly popular with both black and white audiences in the later years of the swing era.

With his dynamic Tympany Five bands, Jordan mapped out the main parameters of the classic R&B, urban blues and early rock’n’roll genres with a series of hugely influential 78 rpm discs for the Decca label. These recordings presaged many of the styles of black popular music in the late 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, and exerted a huge influence on many leading performers in these genres.

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2009 – Lux Interior died. American singer and a founding member of The Cramps from 1976 until his sudden death in February 2009 aged 62.

When asked why he continued to play live well into his middle age, he told the LA Times:

    “It’s a little bit like asking a junkie how he’s been able to keep on dope all these years, It’s just so much fun. You pull into one town and people scream, ‘I love you, I love you, I love you.’ And you go to a bar and have a great rock ‘n’ roll show and go to the next town and people scream, ‘I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you.’ It’s hard to walk away from all that.”

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Almanac – October 21

1772 – Samuel Taylor Coleridge born. English poet, literary critic and philosopher who, with his friend William Wordsworth, was a founder of the Romantic Movement in England and a member of the Lake Poets. He is probably best known for his poems The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Kubla Khan, as well as for his major prose work Biographia Literaria. His critical work, especially on Shakespeare, was highly influential, and he helped introduce German idealist philosophy to English-speaking culture.

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1867 – Medicine Lodge Treaty – Near Medicine Lodge, Kansas a landmark treaty was signed by southern Great Plains Indian leaders. The treaty required Native American Plains tribes to relocate to a reservation in western Oklahoma.

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1917 – Dizzy Gillespie born. American jazz trumpeter, bandleader, composer and occasional singer.

During the 1964 United States presidential campaign Gillespie, with tongue in cheek, put himself forward as an independent write-in candidate.He promised that if he were elected, the White House would be renamed The Blues House, and a cabinet composed of Duke Ellington (Secretary of State), Miles Davis (Director of the CIA), Max Roach (Secretary of Defense), Charles Mingus (Secretary of Peace), Ray Charles (Librarian of Congress), Louis Armstrong (Secretary of Agriculture), Mary Lou Williams (Ambassador to the Vatican), Thelonious Monk (Travelling Ambassador) and Malcolm X (Attorney General).

What a chance America missed !

In 1971 Gillespie announced he would run again  but withdrew before the election for reasons connected to the Bahá’í Faith.

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1921 – American President Warren G. Harding delivered the first speech by a sitting President against lynching in the deep south

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1924 – Celia Cruz born.  Cuban-American salsa performer. One of the most popular salsa artists of the 20th century, she earned twenty-three gold albums and was renowned internationally as the “Queen of Salsa” as well as “La Guarachera de Cuba.”

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1944 – The first kamikaze attack: A Japanese plane carrying a 200 kilograms (440 lb) bomb attacked  HMAS Australia off Leyte Island, as the Battle of Leyte Gulf began.

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1957 – Julian Cope born. English rock musician, author, antiquary, musicologist, poet and cultural commentator. Also a recognised authority on Neolithic culture, an outspoken political and cultural activist with a noted and public interest in occultism and paganism.

As an author and commentator, he has written two successive volumes of autobiography called Head-On (1994) and Repossessed (1999), two volumes of archaeology called The Modern Antiquarian (1998) and The Megalithic European (2004) and two volumes of musicology called Krautrocksampler (1995) and Japrocksampler (2007).

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1967 – Vietnam War: More than 100,000 war protesters gathered in Washington, D.C.. A peaceful rally at the Lincoln Memorial was followed by a march to The Pentagon and clashes with soldiers and United States Marshals protecting the facility. Similar demonstrations occurred simultaneously in Japan and Western Europe.

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1969 – Jack Kerouac died. American novelist and poet,  considered a literary iconoclast and, alongside William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg, a pioneer of the Beat Generation.  Kerouac died, aged 47,  from internal bleeding due to long-standing abuse of alcohol.

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